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Queens Chronicle

LIC-based activist taking on Maloney

Lauren Ashcraft running in 3-candidate contest for 12th Congressional District

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Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2019 10:30 am

Will Lauren Ashcraft be the next progressive millennial to unseat a longtime House Democrat in New York?

An activist and comedian, the 30-year-old is one of the two candidates thus far to declare they’re running in the June 2020 primary race for the 12th Congressional District, which is held by 26-year incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens). A three-borough district, its Queens section is made of Long Island City and parts of Astoria and Sunnyside.

“My huge passion is to get big money out of politics,” said Ashcraft, who lives in LIC.

Her stand-up comedy took her to the world of grassroots organizing. She started producing shows in 2015. In the following year, backlash from Donald Trump’s shocking election led her to change plans for one comedy event, turning it into a fundraiser for the perennial Republican target Planned Parenthood.

Ashcraft then took the same idea and created Collection Box Comedy, a monthly show where money is raised for causes like the rebuilding the infrastructure of Puerto Rico, a soup kitchen on the Upper East Side in the district and helping with the Flint, Mich. water crisis.

The district she’s vying for is considered one of the most liberal. Hillary Clinton took 83 percent of its vote in the 2016 presidential election, and last year The Cook Partisan Voter Index rated it D+31.

“I want to utilize the fact that it is a very Democratic district,” Ashcraft said. “We can actually take that and set an example for the rest of the country here because we are such strong Democrats and it is so blue.”

She works as a project manager at JPMorgan Chase, but her positions on economic issues are solidly progressive. Ashcraft supports reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, which divided commercial and investment banking activities, and she is opposed to efforts by both Democrats and Republicans to gut the Dodd-Frank financial regulations. Some NY-12 constituents are still hurting financially from the last recession, she noted.

To help level the playing field for working- and middle-class Americans, Ashcraft wants to create a $100 federal income tax credit for voters. They could give the $100 to campaigns that only take small donations.

“We would be handing the power back to the people,” she said.

Other major priorities for the candidate include eliminating the wage gap and making physical infrastructure like subways accessible to people with disabilities.

Ashcraft disagreed with Maloney’s support for New York’s deal to give Amazon a $3 billion incentive package to establish a second headquarters in Long Island City, saying the deal was too generous to the company and not good enough for the community.

Erica Vladimer, a former legislative staffer who successfully worked to get Albany lawmakers to address sexual harassment, is also challenging Maloney.

The longtime congresswoman faced activist and attorney Suraj Patel last year, winning with 59 percent of the vote to his 41. Patel has not officially declared a 2020 candidacy for Maloney’s seat but has been mentioned in reports as likely to run again.

CORRECTION

This article has been updated to reflect the fact that New York's 12th Congressional District is not the only one that covers three boroughs in the city.

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